Upcoming changes to the industrial relations (IR) laws are going to have “substantial” impact on WA businesses, says CCIWA CEO Chris Rodwell.
“It’s fair to say that these reforms are truly significant,” Rodwell tells the audience at the 2023 CCIWA Workplace Relations Conference.
“They’ll have what we see is a very negative impact on businesses and your operations.”
Rodwell reflected CCIWA members’ concern about the impending impact on the future changes that are currently before the Australian Parliament.
“And then there’s what’s in the pipeline, particularly the “Same Job, Same Pay” legislation and it sounds at least on the tin it’s a pretty reasonable thing to do. But it’s when you open that tin and try and understand what is intended and the potential impacts of it, that cause us the deepest concern.”
What do I need to know?
CCIWA Workplace Relations Director Ryan Martin says these proposed changes are going to “fundamentally shift industrial relations in Australia”.
“It’s the lack of clarity and the lack of certainty around what those changes might actually be creating a level of uncertainty that we’re really concerned about,” Martin says.
Now in effect:
- Changes to initiating bargaining
- Fair Work Commission (FWC) can deal with minor EA errors
- ROC / ABCC abolished
- Termination of EAs more limited
- New FWC expert panels
- Sexual harassment orders and FWC applications
In effect from June 6:
- Changes to EA approval process
- New single interest and supported bargaining streams
- Changes to bargaining disputes and PIA
- Changes to the BOOT
- Changes to flexible working requests and unpaid parental leave requests
- Penalties for pay secrecy apply
- Notification to employees due for zombie agreements
In effect from December 6:
- Fixed-term contracts limits
- Sunsetting of zombie agreements
Substantial shift coming
Impacts will be felt in the way businesses deal with employment matters across a broad range of areas, Martin says.
“Perhaps most significantly, there’s going to be substantial shift to enterprise agreement bargaining and the power and roles that unions will have within this space is very likely going to see businesses that hadn’t traditionally been required to deal with industrial relations matters be drawn into enterprise bargaining, arbitrated disputes and protected industrial action,” he says.
“These reforms touch on everything from the arbitration terms and conditions of employment across multiple businesses in similar industries, to tighter regulation and complexity for the labour hire industry, as well as those organisations that rely on that industry to be able to operate.
“To new categories of engagement of workers, particularly through the lens of the gig economy, but perhaps extending beyond that, and the possible reversion to uncertainty around casual employment and what that definition is, which has the potential to obviously return to more instances of litigation.”
Some of the concerns include:
- Secure Jobs, Fair Pay Act 2022: Came into effect 6 December 2022. Amends workplace relations laws relating to bargaining, job security, gender equity, compliance and enforcement, workplace conditions and protections. “There was minimal consultation with businesses and employer associations, and there’ll be a wide range of implications for employers and the industrial landscape,” Martin says.
- Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Bill 2023: Currently before Parliament seeking to, among other changes, insert an entitlement to superannuation contributions in the National Employment Standards (NES) in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
“There are still going to be some consequences the employers will need to be aware of,” Martin says.
- Conceptual ideas from Government, with consultation papers released.
“CCIWA and the Australian Chamber have put submissions in on the consultation papers themselves, but obviously we’ll need your support to provide us some input onto these changes, once we see some draft legislation,” Martin says.
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